Finding the Drive

October 20, 2008
By David Berke, Scarsdale, NY

The exchange of free time for a passion proved a worthwhile trade. Over the past few months, I worked on a novella titled Drive, the story of a high school student whose suburban bubble unexpectedly bursts. This work is my first fiction piece to venture beyond eight pages, and the complex process was exhausting. Solid prose takes solid hours, and I gave many. Writing was squeezed in after late-night study sessions, on early weekend mornings and during recent trips. The past months were a time of prolific travel, taking me to New Mexico, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina and Italy, and in all these places, I spent hours plugging away, trying to form a sense of myself in fiction.

While writing during my life’s margins, I fell in and out of love with the story countless times. Sentences were created, removed, reinstated, modified and then removed again. Paragraphs radiated brilliance upon their births and were the subject of editorial ridicule soon after, and throughout, thoughts about the work refused to give me leave until the story had been finished. Writing is an unstable marriage: strong emotions are dangerously volatile, constantly threatening to destroy the collaborative link. This basic relationship is hard enough to maintain by itself, so adding tight scheduling and a heavy workload pushed the process towards impossibility.

But I finished the first draft, wearily concocting the last sentence at three-thirty on a weekend morning. My jubilation at completion was ineffable, beyond any sense of accomplishment felt previously. The draft is my security blanket; just looking at the thick stack of paper raises my spirits. Now, as I am relishing an intensive editing process with my favorite English teacher, my relationship with the work is closer to that of a mother to her newborn child. I ogle over my creation and dutifully nurture it.

The point of Drive was to find myself in the story, to sum up life thus far, and with good editing, that goal will be accomplished. But through the writing process, I inadvertently summed up where my life should go. The contentedness of writing is where my future lies. Ideas are deceptively clear when lounging in the brain, and translating these ideas into words is what satisfies me. Be it as a writer, editor or teacher, involvement in finishing hard-won writing is what my profession must entail; I cannot walk away from the creative process. Though Drive is not yet complete, a new story is already waiting in the wings, and it will not let go until put to paper.

The author's comments:
I hope readers will realize that college essays can (and should) be genuine. The goal in a college essay is to convey your passion, so write a passionate essay!

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This article has 1 comment.

Robsie said...
on Nov. 16 2008 at 4:15 am
I can feign no objectivity. I am fascinated by and proud of the maturity, integrity, and wisdom of his writing. His style is unaffected, and skillfully draws the reader into the subject matter, whether it's a movie review, an essay, or a personal letter. I am looking forward to reading Drive!

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